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Monday, November 22, 2010

My home computer was assailed by the barbarian tribes; I am referring to viruses. [You just vainly compared your PC to the Roman Empire.--ed.] Yes. This is why I haven't blogged in a few days, and why no new episodes of The JK Show have appeared. [Nobody watches your stupid show. In fact, the viruses probably came from an angry Reformed dude tired of your papist sympathies.--ed.] I've actually considered that; nah, I'm not that important. In any case, since I am (fruitlessly) continuing my Protestant seminary career despite my deep questions, I have to say that today's lecture in my Acts and Paul class (Acts of the Apostles and Pauline epistles) was the best one yet. [It'd better be; this was the text.--ed.] I know, right? Just before I'm ready to chuck Protestant hermeneutics and trust the Church to tell me what I believe, an exegesis like that one comes along. I mean, we defeated the Arian heresy with the Greek text, a little Jewish context, and a little faith. Outstanding. [In fairness, you agree with the Catholic Church on this text.--ed.] True, but how we get there matters in the debate over the sufficiency of Scripture. It is often asserted that the Church's tradition is necessary most evidently in high Christology; it would seem not, in this case. Only a deliberate twisting of the text yields an Arian reading here. [Maybe this is a debate over whether an honest interpreter can fall into heresy.--ed.] Possibly. I wonder if there is any merit to the distinction of material and formal heresy, beyond an assertion of ultimate authority, combined with a heuristic for determining culpability in light of that assumed authority? [Now you sound like me.--ed.] Perhaps we'll end up in the same place. [Don't bet on it, papist dog.--ed.] Well, unless I'm completely nuts, you're coming with me. And that's another thing: If you're the editor, why don't you edit? I sound worse with you around. [I say what you're really thinking.--ed.] Don't bet on it, angry fundie. [You need me to keep you from stupidity.--ed.] I feel like I learn more when I leave you alone to stew in your schismatic juices. [Fine.--ed.] It's not my fault your position is incoherent. [It's not my fault you're about to lay down with the Tart of Babylon thinking it's Christ, either.--ed.] If they are idolaters, we all are doomed, or have you forgotten that we're borrowing about 94.7% percent of our theology from them? [It's the little things that make all the difference.--ed.] Moving on.
"TT" always used to talk about the "hermeneutic of love" to describe the process of figuring out what a text says--paying attention to the context, the flow of thought, the unity of the Scriptures, and the history of interpretation. Sola Scriptura never seemed to bug his conscience. Then again, that may not be a very Protestant way of reading the Bible. [Yeah, remember: he'd tell you probably he's just as confused as you are, papist.--ed.] Hmmm. [Tell them about the Sunday School class.--ed.] Yeah.
The "Understanding Catholicism" class I've been a part of moved to how Catholics understand the four marks of the Church from the creed: "I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church..." Or, I should say, it was supposed to. We were derailed by a long stream of anti-Catholic bigotry. Not from the teacher. From the people. One guy in particular just started ranting, every tired Protestant polemic you ever heard. Not honest fears or objections; I mean, he could have just saved us all time by saying, "Catholics aren't even close to Christians, and are going straight to Hell." One of my seminary colleagues was dumbfounded as the teacher; all he could say was essentially, "Thanks for your contribution." I couldn't get too mad; he seemed like a pretty old dude. But it would have taken ONE SENTENCE to explain the Catholic meaning here: The Church that Christ founded must have the same faith, (doctrine) sacraments, and governance (leadership). We never got there. I tried to interject in the middle of the man's diatribe that the slogan (and similar) "Not The Councils, But The Bible" could be used by every heretic from here to the Catskills to defend their position, and if so, we'd better come up with a better argument, especially since we are not trying to identify ourselves with those heresies. (Arianism, Nestorianism, Apollinarianism, Pelagianism, Monophysitism, etc., to name but a few.) to little avail. But I got it on the record, as they say. Anyway, I also thought we spent too much time saying that perhaps the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church does not have any relevance to the truth claims she makes (and that we ourselves have no room to stand in judgment ourselves, sadly). And there was a bit of a facile me-tooism with respect to the creedal affirmations. We do mean different things by those terms; to pretend otherwise is foolish. Besides that, people were angrily lamenting that we here in this class understand Catholic doctrine better than most Catholics, which, again, is tragic but does not disprove the ideas themselves. [You're right, but much too friendly to their positions.--ed.] Maybe. But I rather think that I'm not going to allow passions to cloud and derail the frank pursuit of truth.